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Homesteading In Rooks County


The area surrounding what is now Plainville was first called the Paradise Flats. The name was derived from the fact it is a large and level plain situated at the head of Paradise Creek, where buffalo, deer and antelope were once so plentiful, it was given the name, "Hunters Paradise".

The north half of the original town site of Plainville was first settled upon by Mr. Washington Irving Griffin on July 1, 1876. Mr. Griffin, from Pennsylvania, and his wife, Lydia R. Griffin, settled near what is now the east corner of Washington and Mill Streets. Mrs. Griffin was the first lady resident of the town and, for some time, was the only woman on the prairie between the Solomon and Saline Rivers.

In May 1878, the Plainville post office was established with Mr. Griffin as postmaster. He soon started a store, which was then the only trading point between Stockton and Hays City, a distance of 45 miles. The name "Plainville" was arrived at when Mr. Griffin went to the homestead of Lambert P. Darland to fix up the papers to start the new town. Mr. Darland suggested the name Plainville, and without questioning, Mr. Griffin, on whose farm the town was to be started, agreed, and Plainville it was.

Charley Weeks started a store farther to the south in a "soddy". Mrs. Weeks served meals in the back of the store, and Plainville's sod house became well known.

The G.A.R. (Grand Army of the Republic) Monument stands in downtown Plainville next to the new library, which was built on the site of the previous library. The G.A.R. Hall, built by the "GAR boys", was a one-story frame hall located in what is now the 100 block of west Mill Street. It served as the first city library beginning on May 24, 1902.

A fire in October of 1909 destroyed as many as sixteen business buildings and the opera hall in downtown Plainville. The fire destroyed buildings on both sides of Mill Street and one of the few structures left standing were the stone walls of what is now the True Value Hardware store. Damage estimates of the time showed over $45,000 in damage of which only $19,600 was covered by insurance.

The first Plainville school system was formed on May 14, 1880. The first school building was erected the following summer. In 1888, a two-story frame building was erected on the grounds where Plainville High School is located. The PHS football program began in 1904. The old junior high gymnasium was constructed as a Works Progress Administration project. The current high school was complete in 1952 at the site of the original two-story structure.

Several former Plainville teachers went on to become very important figures. C. E. Rarick, who served as principal, became president in 1933 of Fort Hays Kansas State College, the forerunner of Fort Hays State University. Rarick Hall, on the FHSU campus, is named for the former president. Also, Jack Hartman, a football coach at PHS, would go on to become legendary at Kansas State University as a basketball coach and was inducted into the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.

The ethnicity of its settlers is unknown.


Information from Roger Hrabe, Rooks County Economic Development Director


Hours and Contacts

Monday,April 21 Forsyth will close at 10 pm because of no electricity

Spring Hours:
Sun:             1:00 pm - 2:00 am
Mon-Thurs: 7:30 am - 2:00 am
Friday:         7:30 am - 7:00 pm
Sat:            10:00 am - 5:00 pm

For current month(s) and detailed information, please select desired month under announcements (below).

Phone: 785.628.4434
Fax: 785.628.4096
Contacts Directory
Mailing Address:
   Forsyth Library
   600 Park Street
   Hays, KS 67601
Physical Address:

   502 South Campus Drive
   Hays, KS 67601-4099